The Croods is an animated film about a family of cave people which might sound like a thinly disguised rehash of The Flintstones but it’s actually a thinly disguised but very well made, rehash of most family-oriented animated films of the last few decades.
The eponymous Croods are a prehistoric family whose lives are, not surprisingly, ruled by fear of the large hungry creatures stalking their environment. Consequently, dad Grug (Nicolas cage) consigns everyone to the sanctuary of the family cave and spouts a survival doctrine based on caution and never-ending fear. Teenage daughter Eep (endearingly voiced by Emma stone) who looks like she’s been on the roids and the peptides, longs for experience of a wider world. When the family encounters a teenager named Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) who seems to have evolved slightly beyond the Neanderthal savage phase, they learn to venture out of the cave and use ideas rather than muscle to survive.
In terms of on-screen action, characterisation or comic ideas, this film doesn’t offer much that we haven’t seen before but it delivers what is has in a smart, fun, warm and energetic way. It also features startlingly realistic and detailed animation with remarkably fluid movement and vivid Avatar-like landscapes.
Like so many recent animated films, though, The Croods overdoes the nerve-shatteringly loud, frenetic action scenes and sight gags. Adults will be praying for a few more contemplative moments and less brain pummelling noise. Admittedly, though, at the preview, the all-important child audience seemed to love the frantic movement and amiable destruction. They also seemed to love the comedy and they cackled demonically every time poor old Dad Grug was bashed, squashed and humiliated. The children were also enchanted by the film’s collection of cute, lovable critters including the adorable little sloth named Belt.
While the emphasis in this film is on spectacle, The Croods explores (albeit superficially) themes such as acceptance of others, the need to embrace new ideas and family concerns like teenagers leaving the nest and fathers losing their authority.
Apart from advances in animation, The Croods doesn’t deliver anything particularly original but it’s never dull, confusing or excessively nasty for the kids and it’s clever and amusing enough to keep adults interested.
Nick’s rating: Three and a half stars.
Director(s): Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Release date: 28th Mar 2013
Running time: 98 mins.
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